Monday, November 14, 2011

Buddha's hand citron shortbread cookies

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Buddha's Hand might be the strangest fruit I've ever seen

A few weeks ago I got my hands on a crazy citrus fruit called Buddha's Hand. Imagine the offspring of a lemon and an octopus, and you're in the right ballpark.

Buddha's Hand is a variety of citron. It smells like a very floral lemon. But unlike a lemon, the Buddha's Hand is all zest and pith, with no flesh, juice or seeds at all. ("But how does it reproduce if it has no seeds?" asked my husband. I have no clue. If you're a botanist, help us out.)

We discovered that the Buddha's Hand balanced nicely on my 9-year-old's head

I got a head start on holiday gifts by cutting a few fingers off my Buddha's Hand and sticking them in a jar of vodka. I cut a few more off and put them in a jar of sugar. A week or two in the dark and I'll have Buddha's Hand infused vodka and Buddha's Hand infused sugar - excellent holiday gifts for gourmand friends.

For more immediate gratification, I minced a few more Buddha's Hand fingers and baked them into shortbread. I used the rind and some of the pith. The resulting shortbread was crisp and buttery and so lemon-plus-roses fragrant that even a zip-top bag couldn't contain the aroma. Buddha's Hand shortbread with a cup of strong black tea, sitting by a cozy fire on a rainy afternoon - doesn't that sound lovely?

Thanks to Melissa's/World Variety Produce for supplying the Buddha's Hand for this recipe.

Fragrant Buddha's Hand shortbread - time for tea!

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Buddha's Hand shortbread cookies
Shortbread gets a boost of fragrance from chopped Buddha's Hand, an exotic citrus fruit that smells like a cross between lemon and roses.
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Buddha's Hand fingers, finely chopped (remove some but not all of the white pith before chopping)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup large-crystal raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a stand mixer (or a bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter, sugar, salt and chopped Buddha's Hand until the mixture is fluffy and fragrant. The action of the mixer will release the essential oils in the Buddha's Hand rind, so it's important not to cheat this step.Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour, mixing gently with a spatula or your hands until the dough comes together - it will be dry and crumbly, but that's okay. Turn the dough out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and form it into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle the raw sugar on top and press the sugar into the dough with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut the dough into small squares or diamonds and separate the cookies a bit on the tray so air can circulate between them. They won't spread, so you don't have to leave a lot of room in between.Bake about 25 minutes or until the cookies are just turning golden at the edges. Cool on a rack. Serve with tea.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 dozen small cookies


Hilary Cable said...

Thank you for giving me a sample of the cookies and the toasted, sugared peel. Both delicious and very delicate. I must find one of these!

Anonymous said...

I can't say that I've ever used Buddah's Hand. I see it every once in a while and love smelling it. I love how you are able to stretch the usefulness of one piece of fruit. Great ideas!

Robert Wemischner said...


Love to candy the Buddha's hand and then use it in buttery pound cakes or ontop of citrus curd tarts......takes about a week to fully "confit" or candy it so that it is shelf stable but I teach this in my professional pastry class at LA Trade Tech; would love to have you as a guest one day.
Robert Wemischner
author of The Dessert Architect

Erika Kerekes said...

Robert - I would love to hear more about how you "confit" the Buddha's Hand. And visiting your pastry class sounds like a blast! Let's put that on the calendar for 2012 for sure....

Monet said...

Leave it you, Erika! You always bring me such beautifully inspired and creative recipes. Thank you for sharing with me! I hope you are having a great week and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

Our local Minnesota grocery "imported" some Buddha's Hand citrons from California this week, and I splurged (household kitchen R&D budget). I enjoyed trying this recipe today. Resulting shortbread cookies tasted quite salty to me, even though I used unsalted butter, so I'll try with about half the salt next time.

Erika Kerekes said...

Anon - I'm sorry about that - I do like my baked goods salty, particularly shortbread. I'll add a note to the recipe to that effect. I hope it didn't ruin it for you!

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Thanks!

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